Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

The renown of José María Gironella (hee-roh-NEH-yah) springs from the series of panoramic novels that depict the Spanish Civil War, although the author published in a variety of literary forms. His first work in print was poetry (Ha llegado el invierno y tú no estás aquí, 1945), but he quickly abandoned the genre in favor of the novel. Los fantasmas de mi cerebro (1959; Phantoms and Fugitives: Journeys to the Improbable, 1964; includes translation of Todos somos fugitivos) is the documentation in a series of essays of a nervous breakdown. A partial collection of Gironella’s short stories appears in Phantoms and Fugitives.

Gironella also produced travel books—Personas, ideas, y mares (1963; persons, ideas, and seas), El Japón y su duende (1964; Japan and her ghosts), and En Asia se muere bajo las estrellas (1968; in Asia you die under the stars)—along with essays that outline his personal vision in a wide variety of subjects, newspaper articles, literary analyses, criticism, biographical accounts, interviews, and meditations. China, lágrima innumerable (1965; China, countless tears) is an expanded essay accompanied by photographs. Gritos del mar (1967; shouts from the sea) collects in one volume various articles previously published in periodicals.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

José María Gironella has been labeled as a post-Spanish Civil War writer belonging to the realist tradition of nineteenth century literature, a fact that places him in Spain’s Generation of ’36. His novels represent a rupture in the trend toward introspection and intellectualization that existed prior to the Civil War. Gironella is a serious writer who identifies with the common person, desiring to convey through literature his own experiences in life. One is impressed by his sincerity and flexibility, his awe and optimism as he effects his personal ongoing search for knowledge and willingly shares it.

Gironella’s major literary success has centered on his personal commitment to explain, through the historical novel, the reality and complexity of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939); his epic novels The Cypresses Believe in God and One Million Dead—made both discrete and panoramic through the author’s attempt to be objective—have become international best sellers.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Dial, John. “Gironella’s Chronicles Revisited: A Panorama of Fratricide.” Papers on Language and Literature l0 (Winter, l974). Offers a reexamination of the famous trilogy following the publication of his novel Condenados a vivir in l97l.

Ilie, Paul. “Fictive History in Gironella.” Journal of Spanish Studies: Twentieth Century 2 (1974). Shows that Gironella points out relationships between the novel and historical events of the time. Citations from the novels are all in the original Spanish.

Schwartz, Ronald. José María Gironella. New York: Twayne, l972. A comprehensive account of Gironella’s achievements and works.

Thomas, Gareth. The Novel of the Spanish Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Gironella’s trilogy receives a chapter, and the introductory chapters are valuable in providing a context. The citations from Gironella and his critics are all in the original Spanish or French.